The league-leading Columbus Crew 2 welcomes a new face to the team in Tristan Weber. The 22-year-old defender was signed on a free transfer from the Charleston Battery of the United Soccer League Championship on Friday the club announced. Terms of Weber’s deal with Crew 2 were not disclosed, per MLS NEXT Por policy.
With the Battery, where he spent the first half of the 2022 season, Weber made 12 appearances, five of which were starts. and recorded 607 minutes played. In 2021, Weber made 13 appearances for the Las Vegas Lights FC, also of the USL Championship. Prior to his time in USL, Weber played collegiately for the San Diego State Aztecs from 2019-21.
Charleston is about as familiar as a USL side can come for the Black & Gold. The Battery host the annual Carolina Cup Challenge in the preseason and Columbus has played in the preseason tournament seven times. The Crew has won the Carolina Cup Challenge four times, the first ever tournament and three of the last four years it has been held. Former United States international and Black & Gold player Connor Casey currently coaches the Battery.
With the signing of Mohamed Farsi to the first team last week, Crew 2 lacked depth at the fullback position. Farsi will continue to see time with the second team and is expected to return to the team this weekend. Will Sands and Jake Morris typically play left fullback in a four-man backline and when the team shifts into a three-man backline, Morris is the preferred left wingback. All three of these players are now on the senior roster and Crew 2 has signed Weber as a roster reinforcement as these players seek more playing time in MLS.
Weber will need to adapt to more of a wingback role as head coach Laurent Courtois has primarily played with three center backs supported by two wingbacks. The trio of Abdi Mohamed, Justin Malou and Daniel Strachan have seen regular playing time together and have solidified their starting positions. In midfielder Marco Micaletto’s absence recently, Mohamed was honored as the team captain against the New England Revolution II.
Weber is joining an accomplished Crew 2 defense, who leads the league in clean sheets with nine and has allowed the least amount of goals with only 13 conceded in 16 games. The Black & Gold also leads MLS NEXT Pro in save percentage with 80 percent of shots being stopped. Courtois rates both Brady Scott and Patrick Schulte as top goalkeepers in the MLS NEXT Pro. Schulte was Columbus’ top SuperDraft pick this season and is part of the Generation Addidas class of 2022.
Crew 2 currently sits atop the overall MLS NEXT Pro standings with 38 points from 16 games. The Tacoma Defiance is one point behind the Black & Gold with 37 points while Saint Louis CITY2 has 36 points and the Houston Dynamo 2 has 35 points. New York City FC II are the next closest Eastern Conference team with 30 points. Columbus has a game in hand against Tacoma, Houston and New York City.